President Goodluck Jonathan may have taken the first anti-corruption step of his presidency against a highly placed government official: Mohammed Bello Adoke, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.

In a letter to Otunba Dino Melaye, Executive Secretary of the Anti-Corruption Network, the Nigeria Police Force announced that it is investigating the allegations of corruption, abuse of office and incompetence leveled against the Minister last month in a petition his group sent to the President.

The letter invites Mr. Melaye, to the Police Force Headquarters tomorrow, May 10, in connection with the investigations.

Signed by Commissioner of Police Alli Amodu, it says that theInspector-General of Police directed that a full-scale investigation be conducted into the allegations by the X-Squad which he leads.

It would be recalled that on April 4, the Anti-Corruption Network sent a petition to President Godluck Jonathan in which it accused the Minister of massive corruption, abuse of office and gross incompetence, and asked the President, if his war against corruption was serious, to fire him.  The petition contained a lengthy chronicle of allegations against the Minister.

On April 11, the Network wrote another petition in which it reminded President Jonathan of its original petition, and again called on him to get rid of the Minister.  

Prior to those activities, in February, another group of anti-corruption campaigners, the Anti-Corruption Coalition, called on Mr. Adoke to resign his office or be prosecuted for “aiding and abetting” corruption in the country.

Similarly, in a report published in January 2012, accused Mr. Adoke of secretly operating four secret accounts in which he had $40 million US dollars, 5.3 million Great Britain Pounds and N6.2billion Naira.  The Minister denied the reports.

If rumours of the police investigation are true, this will be the first time that Mr. Jonathan is initiating the probe of a member of his cabinet, several of whom faced massive allegations of corruption and are publicly derided by the public.  

While this police investigation will be a major boost for the legion of anti-corruption campaigners in the country, one of them raised an immediate flag this evening.  

“If Mr. Jonathan actually intends to be taken seriously, he ought to have suspended the Minister while these investigations are going on,” he said.  “You cannot leave him in a position where he can influence, and will most likely influence this so-called investigation. Besides, what is the structure of this investigation?  Will the public be invited to testify?  Will whistleblowers be encouraged?  Where do people who have information send it?”

While it seems the police will question Mr. Melaye and askedhim for documents during their meeting tomorrow, it is important to remember that the former federal legislator does not enjoy the best relationship with them.  Only last month, he reported that he had been the victim of an assassination attempt in Abuja.  

The police denied the claim.

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